Gladiator 2 trailer has critics raving about Paul Mescal and Joseph Quinn after CinemaCon debut

Critics are raving about Sir Ridley Scott's Gladiator sequel featuring Paul Mescal after footage from the highly-anticipated film was screened behind closed doors at CinemaCon on Thursday.

Scott's eagerly awaited follow up to the 2000 hit, which starred Russell Crowe, will focus on Lucius, played by Mescal, the son of Lucilla.

Lucilla, portrayed by Connie Nielsen, was the sister and love interest romantic interest of Joaquin Phoenix’s evil Commodus, who met his fate at the conclusion of the original film alongside Crowe’s character Maximus.

Sharing a video message prior to the teaser trailer being shown, director Ridley Scott told those at the annual event in Las Vegas: “It is possibly even more extraordinary than the first. [It] is well worth the wait.”

According to Variety, the CinemaCon trailer showed Mescal “face off against a charging rhino, a horde of vicious baboons, and Pedro Pascal, among other threats to his chiseled physique”.

In addition to Mescal and Pascal, The White Lotus actor Fred Hechinger and Stranger Things star Joseph Quinn portray co-emperors Geta and Caracalla, while Denzel Washington takes on the role of a former slave seeking vengeance.

Paul Mescal stars in Gladiator 2 (PA Archive)
Paul Mescal stars in Gladiator 2 (PA Archive)

Film critics who were in attendance at the annual event took to X, formerly Twitter, to rave about the film – and shared their excitement for its release on November 22

Gizmodo reporter Germain Lussier wrote: “Well, the first #Gladiator 2 footage was instantly the best thing I've seen so far at #CinemaCon. Every bit as epic and bloody as you're expecting. Just massive.”

“First look at GLADIATOR II: five mins of seriously ripped Paul Mescal, spit-talking Joseph Quinn taking over Joaquin Phoenix bad-guy duties, Pedro Pascal as reluctant authority figure, Denzel in mentor role, plus gladiators fighting sharks, rabid baboons, even a rhino,” shared The Globe and Mail film editor Barry Hertz.

Daniel Baptista, host of The Movie Podcast, penned: “Joseph Quinn is truly vile and sinister in Gladiator II footage. We are not ready.”

CinemaCon attendees have been treated to a whole host of titbits about Scott’s sequel with the film's poster being unveiled at the event confirming its title as Gladiator II.

It also revealed the film’s official tagline, taken from a quote by Maximus in the original movie, which reads: “What we do in life echoes in eternity.”

The Gladiator earned 12 Oscar nominations and ultimately won in five categories, including Best Picture and a Best Actor nod for Russell Crowe.